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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 February 2017



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 February 2017


Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


MoU signed for welfare of Handicraft Artisans


A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed between the National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation NSFDC, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles.

  • The basic objective of the MoU is to help Scheduled Caste artisans and their families by promoting production and marketing of high value quality Handicrafts products at cluster level in the field of Handicrafts, Cane & Bamboo, Artificial jewellery, Textiles (Hand printed, Hand Embroidery), Dolls & Toys, Stone Carving, Footwear, etc.



Handicrafts Sector is the second largest economic activity after agriculture.  There are around 12 lakh scheduled castes artisans in the country.  Most of the Scheduled Caste Artisans are pursuing various Handicrafts such as Cane & Bamboo in Assam, Textiles (Hand printed) in Gujarat & Punjab, Metal wares in Uttar Pradesh, Dolls & Toys in Karnataka, Theatre Costumes & Puppets in Andhra Pradesh   etc.


About NSFDC:

National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) was set up in 1989 as a non profit company under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India for financing, facilitating and mobilizing funds for the economic empowerment of persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes families living below double the Poverty Line.

  • NSFDC finances income generation schemes for the target group through the State Channelising Agencies (SCAs) nominated by respective State/UT Governments.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


90,095 more affordable houses sanctioned for urban poor under PMAY(Urban)


Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has approved construction of 90,095 more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) with an investment of Rs.5,590 cr and central assistance of Rs.1,188 cr.

  • With this, construction of a total number of 16,51,687 affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor has been sanctioned so far under PMAY (Urban) with a total investment of Rs.89,072 cr with central assistance of Rs.25,819 cr.


About PMAY-Urban:

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.

The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:

  • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource.
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy.
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors.
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.


Key facts:

  • The beneficiaries are poor and people living under EWS and LIG categories in the country.
  • The scheme is divided into three phases. In the first phase, a total of 100 cities will be covered from April 2015 to March 2017. In phase two, 200 cities will be covered from April 2017 to March 2019. In the third phase, the leftover cities will be covered from April 2019 to March 2022.
  • The government is providing an interest subsidy of 6.5% on housing loans which can be availed by beneficiaries for 15 years from start of loan date.
  • The government will grant Rs 1 lakh to all the beneficiaries of the scheme. In addition, Rs 1.5 lakh will be given to all eligible urban poor who want to construct their houses in urban areas or plan to go for renovation in their existing houses. One can also avail loans under this scheme to build toilets in existing houses.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. 


Saathiya resource kit 


Under its Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram, Union health ministry has launched Saathiya resource kit that is specially designed by experts to help peer educators, especially in villages, discuss sensitive issues and answer teenage queries in their community in an informed manner.


Key facts:

  • The ‘Saathiya Resource Kits’ is a nationwide programme under which 1.6 lakh boys and girls will work as peer educators to adolescents and respond to their queries on key health issues including mental and physical changes, nutrition and addiction.
  • The initiative also aims to bring down the apprehensions and doubts among growing adolescents about the body related changes that they undergo during puberty.
  • The resource kit comprises of an Activity Book, Bhranti-Kranti Game, a Question-Answer Book and a Peer Educator Diary.
  • The Peer Educators will be trained across the country in a phased manner and the communication material is specially designed to help the Peer Educator to be recognized and respected as ‘saathiya’, a good friend for the adolescents.


About RKSK:

To address and cater to the health and development needs of the country’s adolescents, Health Ministry had launched RKSK in January 2014.

RKSK identifies six strategic priorities for adolescents — nutrition, sexual and reproductive health (SRH), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), substance misuse, injuries and violence (including gender-based violence) and mental health.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


Centre not for terming Pakistan a ‘terror state’


The Centre has decided to oppose a Private Member’s Bill moved in the Rajya Sabha recently seeking to declare countries like Pakistan “terror states.”


What’s the issue?

An independent Member of Parliament had recently moved The Declaration of Countries as Sponsor of Terrorism Bill, 2016 to impose legal, economic and travel sanctions on citizens of countries which promote terror.

While presenting the Bill, the MP said, “For decades, India and other countries in the region have been victims of terror attacks from organisations and individuals based in and with the support of elements in Pakistan. Yet for decades we have remained engaged with Pakistan in an attempt to draw it into the mainstream. Pakistan’s track record of fostering terrorism and terrorists is long and incontrovertible. It is time that we stop running to other countries to declare Pakistan a terror state and stood up and did this job ourselves.”


Why the government is opposing the Bill?

The Home Ministry is opposing the Bill as it jeopardises international relations under the Geneva Convention. The government feels that it will be not prudent to declare any country as a terror state as India is bound by international norms.


Way ahead:

A private member’s Bill can be enacted into a law once it has been screened by a House committee, which is optional, and passed by a majority vote.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Deep sea mining gets a second look


The risk of running out of rare earth metals that are essential to modern technology has led to a surge in interest in mining the deep seas.


Need for deep sea mining:

Demographic growth and the acceleration of technological innovations in the past 40 years have doubled the quantity of minerals extracted worldwide, leading to shortages of certain key metals, according to a recent UN report.

If global development proceeds at its current pace, traditional land-based supply of resources may be challenged to meet demand. This uncertainty highlights the importance of considering deep-sea mining, even though the process involves environmental risks.



Fears have also mounted about the environmental impact of disturbing vast areas of the pristine ocean floor.


Way ahead:

Waters deeper than 200 meters make up 65% of the world’s oceans, and are vulnerable to human activities. Given the risks to fragile ecosystems, a new international approach to managing mineral deposits should be put in place.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


IFC invests $47.5 mn. in Granules India


World Bank arm International Finance Corporation (IFC) plans to part-fund the expansion programme of Hyderabad-based pharma firm Granules India Ltd, which includes setting up of a greenfield facility for manufacturing APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

  • The proposed investment would be the fourth by IFC in the company and in the form of debt investment of up to $47.5 million.


About the International Finance Corporation (IFC):

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is an international financial institution that offers investment, advisory, and asset management services to encourage private sector development in developing countries.

  • It is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.
  • It was established in 1956 as the private sector arm of the World Bank Group to advance economic development by investing in strictly for-profit and commercial projects that purport to reduce poverty and promote development.
  • The IFC is owned and governed by its member countries, but has its own executive leadership and staff that conduct its normal business operations.
  • It is a corporation whose shareholders are member governments that provide paid-in capital and which have the right to vote on its matters.



  • It offers an array of debt and equity financing services and helps companies face their risk exposures, while refraining from participating in a management capacity.
  • The corporation also offers advice to companies on making decisions, evaluating their impact on the environment and society, and being responsible.
  • It advises governments on building infrastructure and partnerships to further support private sector development.

Sources: the hindu.